The name "Corona Express" given by Mamata Banerjee to migrant trains will become her "exit route" from Bengal, Home Minister Amit Shah said today, attacking the Chief Minister in a virtual rally.
"The name 'Corona Express' that you have given, Mamata didi, will become your exit route. You've added salt to the wounds of the migrant workers and they will not forget this," Amit Shah said, addressing BJP workers online.
Mr Shah was referring to Mamata Banerjee's criticism of the central government for running migrant special trains amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
"They are stuffing the Shramik trains full of people, there is no social distancing, no food, no water, nothing," the Bengal Chief Minister had said. "What are they trying to do? Are they running Shramik trains or are they trying to run Corona Express," she remarked.
Ms Banerjee had also said the railway ministry could take more precautions against the virus. "I was rail minister. I know we have enough rakes. They can easily make the trains longer and stop crowding the trains full of people for 48 hours with no water and no food."
Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool lawmaker, Abhishek Banerjee, was the first to react to Amit Shah's comments. "Amit Shah Ji, Bengal has not heard you speak during these times of crisis," tweeted Mr Banerjee, who also asked the government to clarify on the border stand-off with China in Ladakh.
Respected @AmitShah Ji, Bengal has not heard you speak during these times of crisis, but we hope today you would take a minute to answer this:— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) June 9, 2020
"Are the Chinese occupying our territory or not?"
“চীন আমাদের ভূমির অংশ দখল করছে কি না?”
Ms Banerjee and Amit Shah have sparred bitterly throughout the coronavirus crisis and the lockdown, with the Bengal Chief Minister accusing Mr Shah and others in the central government of trying to undermine her government's efforts to fight coronavirus. She also accused the ruling BJP of interfering in her state relentlessly.
On May 28, Mamata Banerjee revealed she had told Mr Shah that if he thought her government was failing to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, why didn't he try and do it himself.
Ms Banerjee said, "I must thank him but Mr Shah had said at that time, how can we dislodge an elected government?"
Earlier in May, Mr Shah wrote to Mamata Banerjee accusing her of not helping migrants return to Bengal. Some contents were leaked to the media before Ms Banerjee could respond.
Ms Banerjee, at a virtual meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chief Ministers, also attacked Mr Shah for "playing politics".
Ms Banerjee's Trinamool faces a tough challenge from the BJP in next year's polls. Last year, the BJP swept 18 of Bengal's 42 Lok Sabha seats, leaving the Trinamool stunned. The Trinamool did make a recovery in bypolls a few months later, but the BJP has continuously attacked Mamata Banerjee for allegedly mismanaging the COVID-19 crisis.